Windows – Tuning Windows 7 for use in a VM

swapvirtual machinevirtualboxwindows 7

I'm running Windows 7 in a VirtualBox Virtual Machine, and would like to make it run in a more streamlined fashion. I'll be using the install primarily for testing web apps, and have no need for it to run quickly. I would like it to run with minimal memory requirements, and with minimal changes to its virtual hard drive's contents. Changes to the hard drive contents, for example the paging file, result in larger snapshot sizes.

Another recent post of mine seems to be related to this issue, but does not directly address issues with Windows.

One concern that I have is that Windows seems to be using 17% of its paging file even with over 900MB of memory marked "Standby" or "Free". My uneducated guess is that this is being used to store indexes or some other data that helps to speed up the system but is not really necessary.

I'm also wondering if it's normal for Windows to use over 500 MB of "In Use" memory with no apps running. Will this amount decrease if I reduce the amount of "installed" memory in the VM? What steps can I take to reduce the system's memory footprint without incurring an increase in paging file usage?

Best Answer

While this does not directly answer the question, I post this here just as a reminder of an alternative solution. For most virtual machine uses, you probably don't need every single component that Windows 7 comes with (e.g. Tablet PC, Windows Media Center). If you have access to your installation media or the image file, you can use the WAIK using the DISM tool tool if you're an advanced user, or consider a simpler tool like RT Se7en Lite, to slim the operating system down (if you're interested, you could also slipstream Windows Updates/Service Packs, unattended applications, etc).

This should result in a much smaller image, and a much "lighter" operating system (which definitely lessens the RAM it uses) depending on the components you remove.

Again though, this obviously does not apply for an installed & running version of Windows. There are definitely more optimizations that you can do afterwards, which is why I called this just an alternative solution. There are a wide variety of guides on the internet for post-installation optimizations.